Most of us live in a busy, goal-directed culture. In our meditation life, that same goal-directed energy is always searching for a special experience, attainable only in the future; a state that’s higher, better, different from where we are right now. Fortunately, mindfulness of what’s happening in the present is both the path and the goal of our practice. And the best way to begin mindfulness meditation is with the breath, our life-long companion. In fact, mindfulness of breathing is not just preliminary, but a practice that can take us all the way to full awakening.
Of course, without even noticing, we’ve been breathing naturally from the day we were born. This will continue until the last breath that signals our death. When we bring a beginner’s mind, open and eager to learn, to being mindful about the process of breathing, something magical happens. Breath after breath, we’re present, showing up for the only moment we have to be truly alive – this one. Each mindful breath is an invitation to relax, calm down, and discover a delightful new dimension of presence, suffused with joy and freedom.
How can we delight in our meditation? Learning to bring loving awareness to the breath, feeling the ebb and flow in real time as we sit quietly, is an art. The key is in our approach. Sometimes the tension of insisting on focus can drive delight down the drain. When you meditate, is your effort directed towards trying to get somewhere other than just where you are? As you breathe, can you see how calm you are when, without resisting or struggling, you’re resting in awareness, allowing all things to arise and pass like waves in the ocean, or clouds in the sky? This is a gateway to balance, joy and freedom.